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A year in the life.

I bumped into an acquaintance last week and she pointed out that I looked really… happy. I politely confirmed, but she elaborated and chattered on about how genuinely happy I look. She said that we all look ‘happy’ on social media, but that she could see that I was really just beaming and that she was so thrilled for me. This is a conversation that I’ve had with so many people over the past couple of months, and I quickly realised that I’ve never written about my relationship, and maybe it’s time to open up about this understated adventure that I’ve been on for the past year… and how it’s changed everything.

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Francois happened completely by accident. You hear these stories about the right people coming out of nowhere and you might even scoff at it until the situation slaps you right in your own unsuspecting face. A year ago, a work associate called to ask a favour. This friend of hers (Francois) was launching a new wine and the timing was terrible. She was busy with a huge, demanding project and asked if I could help out and assist with his launch by sharing some of the workload with her. I agreed to meet with him and chat about the requirements to see if I could help out.

I met Francois at a coffee shop in early June last year. He was really charming, maybe slightly shy. A bit awkward. Loud, but not confident. He was… strange. Intriguing. I was suddenly a bit nervous. He was handsome. I disagreed with some of his ideas. I felt chemistry, but I suspected that all the girls did. He had a blatant disarming charm about him. He still does.

On the night of his event, we were obviously preoccupied. I liaised with media and ensured that he remembered all the details in his speeches. After the event, I joined friends at the after party. Francois approached me once or twice, gave me a tequila for my efforts and we made some small talk. Toward the end of the evening, I was in a horrid mood. I was having a nightcap at the bar when Francois asked if I wanted to join for the ‘next’ after party. Not to be a spoilsport, I drove to the next venue with the musicians and left my jacket in the band’s car. How very Cinderella of me. We got to the next party and danced for a few hours. I danced mostly with Francois. And then, very spontaneously… I kissed Francois.

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A few days went by and I started getting messages from him. Mostly about my jacket, which he now had. He wanted to meet up to give it to me, but I just never had the time. Also, I wasn’t really interested in a relationship (sorry babe). We exchanged a few witty messages. A bit of banter. There was definitely chemistry. After I retrieved my golden slipper (the jacket – keep up) we ended up talking. We spoke until the early hours and we kept doing this for well, a year. We got to know each other pretty quickly and I became more and more interested in this whole ‘relationship’ thing.

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I wish I could tell you that the next few months were strictly filled with love and romance. I wish I could tell you how we kept our cool and that we were super easy going. The truth is that we fought. A lot. We fought, then had a two minute to two-day (and once a 2 month) rebound. We pushed and pulled at each other for months. Falling in love (and I mean really in love) is the most wonderful, terrifying experience that I’ve ever survived. Trying to make something work with someone who mirrors and reflects all your faults was tougher than an unripe orange peel. Getting to the fruit seemed impossible. Sometimes I threw that orange across the room, sometimes at him, and every time – he threw it right back at me. As the orange ripened, the skin grew softer (I am LOVING this metaphor I just made up, by the way) and it got easier to peel back. Now it feels like we’re both sitting here, eating this sweet orange together, feeling smug about how much we’ve grown together this past year.

Every time we started digging at the peel, someone else would throw another fruit in the bowl. Think prickly pears. Monkey apples. Melons. Somehow we managed to gather everything together and make a big, beautiful fruit salad out of it. Whenever we were apart, we always drifted (read: forced) our way back to each other. No matter how mad I made him (I am on expert level with this, by the way) and how much he infuriated me; I always wanted to be with Francois. For all his quirks – the ones I love, and the ones that make me want to run across at least three borders. Isn’t love just so exciting? Excruciating. Wonderful?

This week marks one year since we kissed. One year since I started falling in love with a man who I continue to fall for, every day. When I slide my hand into his, it’s like the warmth of at least twenty suns. A warmth that I can feel in every chamber of my chest. If you’ve ever met Francois, you’ll know that he is like sunshine. His personality is like that of a young (mischievous) boy. His heart is huge and his smile is insanely contagious. I watch the people in his life flock around him just to catch a few rays of his warmth and gregariousness. This post is awful for his ego – I don’t even know why I’m doing this to myself. He’s going to walk around like a peacock for actual weeks. So, just to add: He can be really hard work sometimes. I threaten to murder him at least weekly, I promise. There’s balance.

I do love that we’re both Afrikaans. I love speaking to him in our mother tongue, and I love all the little jokes, food, history and culture that we share. I love that he’s also from a small town. That he feels like home. That he doesn’t stand for literally any of my nonsense. Ever.

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When we’re together, it’s like we’re on this really big adventure. I don’t know why this feeling is so different for us. We’ve tried to pin it down and try figure out why we’re so crazy about each other. What the differentiating factor is. Not very romantic, but we’re both driven by logic (fine – him more than me) and dammit, I need answers. We’ve both loved before, but this magnetic pull toward each other is like… it’s like being propelled by a particle accelerator and you’re heading for this big bang that never materializes. It’s exhilarating. It’s science.

 

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So here’s to another year with this great, damn-near-perfect man who makes me happier than I’ve ever felt before. To every happy moment, and every day that brings us even closer together. And here’s to our own, personal fruit salad. And owning it.

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Hello hello hello

I’m going to skip the whole “I haven’t blogged for so long because I’ve been busy” intro because *yawn* and because well, we’re all busy. We glorify it like it’s an achievement, but being busy really sucks. People throw all their savings at expensive holidays to get the hell away from being busy, so I won’t bore you with the details on why I’ve been too ‘busy’ to blog. I’ve still been writing though. I wrote this huge heartfelt post on my innermost self-exploration and emailed it to like five people instead.

I made a huge decision this year. See, last year I went on this gigantic mission with my business. I wanted to feed and grow it like something out of “Little Shop of Horrors” and once it was all set up, I looked at it and realised that it wasn’t what I wanted at all. Taking four days to reply to emails, feeling like we were ‘delivering’ instead of achieving. I felt like a waitress with seven tables and everyone sat down at once and it was awful. That’s not what I want. While I have a small group of people that assist where I’m absolutely unable to, I want to stay the face and project manager of my own company, you know? I want to maintain control and know exactly what is going on at every minute. I don’t want to delegate, I want to DO. So the first part of this year was greatly dedicated to re-shaping a lot of what I’d formed in to the wrong mould. And it’s been great. I’ve also been much more selective with our clients and ensuring that we’re 100% passionate about absolutely everything that we’re doing. What a huge difference that’s made for general morale… But enough shop talk.

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My children are by far the most amazing and incredible thing that’s ever happened to me. I know that you’re supposed to love your children, but I really LIKE them, you know? Like I sit for hours and just talk nonsense with them. I have to give you a little run-down on their current personalities because I’m just besotted.

Noah plays the piano and had his first music concert. I couldn’t get over how brave he was on stage. How confident he is in his ability and how comfortable he is with himself. Watching him laugh and joke with his classmates in the seats – I literally could not take my eyes off of him the entire time. He played so beautifully and was so proud of himself. He loves reading and languages and has never been overly interested in television. He LOVES tech things though, like to a borderline OCD level. I got a humidifier and it was like the highlight of his month trying to figure out how it works, what purpose it serves and the engineering behind all of it. Little things that we all walk past… like he would sit for 20 minutes and try figure out what else our oil heater can do. Which settings it has. It blew his MIND when he figured out that it had a timer. He’s just like that… he loves figuring things out. One day when we drove through that tunnel (you know the one that goes through a mountain – I think it’s on the way to Robertson or something) he said “When I grow up I want to be an engineer so I can make tunnels and bridges that are safe for people” and I swear. to. God he’s going to. I know that he’s going to end up doing something in that field, although it might switch to medicine when he’s older. I know he’ll love knowing how a body works and he’ll like helping people. He’ll definitely have a career with some sort of reward attached to it. Noah is also so social and funny and man, he’s just so smart. I know that we all think (know) that our kids are smart, but his teachers begged us to send him to be assessed when he was five and man alive – he really is a tiny child genius. When they assess kids, they do this personality test too (the whole thing takes like two full days) and Noah has what she called the ‘head boy’ factor. Meaning that he has strengths in every department – emotional, intellectual, rational, physical and social. He’s a very lucky kid.

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Sometimes he says the most incredible things like the other day he asked me if I thought that a particular girl at his school is “the one” for him. I was like well my boy, I don’t know…. ??? He doesn’t believe in Father Christmas because “It doesn’t make sense – how can one person be at the same place at the same time every year etc” when I suggested elves, he straight-up laughed at me. Like I was the child. Anyway, I’ve sworn him to secrecy to protect his brother’s innocence. But man… he says the craziest things. The other night he said he loves me, and I bragged: “I love you MORE!” and he replied “I love you more than space-time continuum” and I had to google that really fast. Like hello, please can you be eight years old and not twelve? He is such a bright, happy boy. He’s also super in to origami right now and spends hours practicing his folds. I can’t wait for him to read all of this one day. Noah, I’m so proud of you x

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BENJAMIN. Well look, if he doesn’t end up being a vet, archaeologist, zoologist or paleontologist then I will be shook. Bunny Banana is obsessed with animals. Noah goes to the library and brings back story or joke books, and Ben puts a new ‘information’ book on my lap every week. “Information books on mammals. Fossils. Dinosaurs. He has probably brought home every educational mammal book that poor library has. His bedtime story is a fact book on animals. He has always been like this, and now that he’s started reading and can scan titles – it’s even worse. We went to a bookshop recently and he asked the store person: “Bring me ALL the information books on animals” and sat on the (kids area) floor while this poor guy loaded books in from other sections. Ben sat there for a good hour trying to soak up as much information as he could. He also really loves math, so I buy him these cool workbooks so he can do sums.

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Ben loves television. Ben loves television probably (definitely) more than he loves me. He watches documentaries about earth and (yes) animals. He watches cartoons that give information about different species. When you talk to Ben, he’ll rattle on and on about this habitat and that ecosystem. His language ability is honestly profound. I took him to the UCT clinic for his asthma a while ago, and this retired professor handled his consultation. Within five minutes, the professor (sincerely) asked if he could use Benjamin as a speaker at his next conference and could not believe how well articulated he is for his age. He wanted me to get Buns tested, but you know what… I don’t want to. I just want the boys to be kids and like dinosaurs and be engrossed by our household appliances.

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Ben is my baby. Noah thrives on independence. In the mornings, he makes his own toast, lets Jack out, makes my coffee, pours himself a bath, gets himself ready and reads a book and has had like, an entire life before Ben and I have even woken up. Bunny still asks me to pour him some juice and he’s so soft and caring. Honestly – Ben is the most caring person you’ve ever met in your life. He also has an incredibly innocent and beautifully naive quality about him that makes you fall in love with him at once. While Noah is super social and popular, Ben is the sweetest little loner. He’s not lonely, it’s just that he’s so fulfilled in his own company. He has like, one close friend at school but other than that, Ben lives completely in his own little world with animals, books, maths and television. As I watch his reading improve, I get more and more excited for him. A whole new world is going to be available to him, and I can just picture him sitting in his room for hours, soaking up information.

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I honestly can’t get enough of those two or their love for each other. Their bond is the most beautiful, precious thing and it would break your heart if you ever saw it. Really, I’m so grateful that I get to watch them grow up. There is nothing sweeter.

There’s so much more to talk about, and I’ll chat more again soon. I want to write a whole lot more again – about everything that’s been going on. I also want to write about the places we’ve been visiting and I want to talk about some serious stuff, but more on that next time. PS It feels really good to write again!

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Hello

There are a lot of things that I haven’t made time for lately. What stands out the most for me is that my house looks like the inside of a handbag, I’m not sleeping a lot and I have hundreds of unanswered work emails and texts from friends who I love so much. I feel like I am behind on *actually* everything. But I’m happy.

Noah can READ MUSIC, I mean how special is that. He can play the piano and it makes me want to cry. I am so, so proud of him. I want to write an entire entry JUST on that. I have so much to say and it needs to come out in no particular format, otherwise I’ll never be able to write again.

I have this recurring dream that I have another baby. There is nothing more boring than hearing about other people’s dreams (I know) but… In this dream: I keep forgetting that I have a baby. Like, “I can’t remember if I have a baby or not- can anyone confirm?” In this dream there’s always a really bad thing that happens like I don’t know – a natural disaster or something. And I leave town but forget to take the baby. Then I call a few friends and ask if they have my baby… and then I wake up. I sleep next to the boys every night (co-sleeping is for the mother, I assure you) so then I just like, pull them toward me and inhale their smell. It’s the best feeling. It’s the worst feeling.

They’re incredible children. Every now and then Graeme and I text each other like “How damn cool are the boys?” I have no idea how they got so incredibly smart. Kind. Handsome. Hilarious. We’re supposed to love our children, but man I just really LIKE them – you know? They tell these really funny jokes and do magic tricks and watch documentaries and play the piano and care about everything so. much. Are all kids this cool? Probably not.

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My computer keeps crashing and I’ve been having issues with my emails which has made me want to jump out of a window for actual real. I got *another* new computer but I don’t have the patience to transfer all my files to the new one, or I get half way then give up because I need that ONE file on the OTHER computer and then just revert back and hope that nothing crashes. This (old) computer is tragically slow and won’t even let me edit images. It’s affected my blog, my job… my mental health.

Tonight I chucked my dressing table out of my room and replaced it with a desk. I figure that I enjoy writing in my bedroom more than anywhere else, so maybe this will encourage some late night motivation.

I have somebody to love, which I appreciate more than I probably ever have before. I get to hang out with someone who I learn from and who makes me laugh until I cry… all the time. I feel like that needs a separate post too, but I’m an incredibly lucky girl to feel even half this happy.

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Anyway, I just thought I’d say hi. I feel like I don’t know what’s going on in the world right now. I feel like I’ve lost myself somewhere between everything. I look at pictures of myself from a year ago and don’t recognise that girl at all. This past year has changed me. I feel like I don’t do anything that I enjoy anymore and I don’t know why. I am like number 7 on the list of my own life? Why? I’m stepping back a bit and trying to figure a few things out. Trying to open a conversation with myself, but who has time to think anyway?

Nobody.

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2017

I’m super ready for 2017. It’s such a cliche to feel this motivated at the beginning of the year, but I feel so fired up. Last year was all about new beginnings and setting things up for growth. Laying down the groundwork and foundations to keep building. Go taller.

I bought this house that still needs so much work, but it’s here. This year I’ll be re-doing much of the kitchen, sorting out the garden, putting in the vegetable patches and creating all the living walls. I want to plaster and paint the exterior walls too, which is going to be such an expensive project, but we’ll see if I can get it done. I learned a lot about money and investments last year, and the goal is to get this house to a point where a rental would cover the bond. It’s a far reach, but totally attainable. I think we’d only want to live here for another year before moving on to the next property. The boys (and Jack) definitely need more space so that they can grow too.

We set up the new classroom for our training facilities and we’ve signed four new, exciting clients that we’re kicking off in 2017. I love watching these projects take shape and come to life. We hired another team member and there’s another one coming in January. Delegating has always been my downfall, but with the right tools and people in place – I’m slowly learning to let go and not hold things back. Letting go has also created all this new time to get more creative and passionate about the day to day dealings, instead of shoving work down the production line.

Benjamin is starting grade ONE. He’s going to learn to read and write this year, and I’m so excited for him. He’s starting guitar lessons, and Noah is doing piano. The house is about to come alive with music and even more books and activity, which I’m really looking forward to. Watching my boys grow and learn makes me happier than anything else ever could. Motherhood is truly rewarding, exciting and wonderful.

With a bit more free time, I’m more dedicated than ever to my blog. I’ve missed writing here, and sharing my thoughts, experiences and stories. I opened up boxes of my old journals and diaries the other day – where I’d documented my life since I was twelve years old. Someone said that I’m so lucky to have that: all my thoughts, experiences and memories to keep forever. I want to keep remembering. I also feel that my writing is quite rusty and I need to keep practicing to keep my own little voice alive. I reached out on twitter and asked what you guys want to read more about, and it seems like you’re mostly interested in travel, food, lifestyle and personal stories.

I got the most beautiful email from a reader last week, and she said “Finding out about your blog might have been the best new year ‘gift’ for me. This morning my friend phoned me, and we talked. I was crying and then.. then she thought about you. She started telling me about your story and I felt hope.. hard to describe the feeling, maybe relief. I asked her for the link and immediately, I looked at your story. “I can relate”, I thought. There is hope, there is another chance for me. I felt ‘I CAN do this’.”

Receiving emails like this is what makes blogging so important to me. Writing about the harder times is difficult and vulnerable but we’re all just people, going through our own struggles. Fighting with our partners, losing friends, struggling at work, feeling down. Eating too much, eating too little. Dealing with our own insecurities and fears. Obstacles. Sometimes there’s so much going on that I can’t share on social media, but only to protect the privacy of those close to me. A lot has been going on, but it’s getting better now. Slowly.

Life is beautiful, and fragile. People are strong. We’re all so capable and fierce, even at our worst. I want to see us all try harder in 2017.

In 2016 I met a man who changed the way that I see a lot of things. Someone older and (I hope he never reads this) much wiser and experienced. He motivates me, makes me laugh until I cry and he loves me. Having someone so supportive and fun-loving at my side has driven me even more. Driven me mad at times : ) but more on that in another post.

I feel like I learned a lot in 2016 and I know that many of you feel the same. Some of you have big things heading your way, like new life, babies and marriages. New jobs and businesses. Opportunities, new cities – new homes. More travel. New love. Apparently (according to numerology) this year marks the start of a new cycle, and is the ideal year to make changes and go for everything you’ve ever been afraid of.

Happy 2017 to all of us. Let’s do this!

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2016.

I was scrolling through my Instagram last night and couldn’t believe how much has happened this year, and how much everything has changed. And I mean everything. Let’s get real for a minute, because I want to be able to read this again in a year’s time and really remember how this year felt.

In 2016, I started my first year as a single woman. I wanted to say “single mother” but I don’t feel that way at all. Graeme is a great, involved dad who sees them almost half of their time. What I really struggled with was NOT seeing them that much anymore. The first few months, I spent a lot of time at home. I threw myself in to work, which I love. I didn’t want to socialise and spent a few weekends in KZN, visiting my dad and childhood friends. I also watched the entire Sex and the City series from scratch. Then all the movies. Obviously.

I hadn’t dated since 2007. It was all so… weird. I started a life with someone at 23. The adjustment was difficult, but not awful. I missed the familiarity of being around someone who knew me, to be honest. I’m so proud and surprised at how unscathed the boys were by any of it. Noah slotted in to ‘man of the house’ mode and helps me so much. In the mornings, he gets up before anyone else and lets Jack out for his morning tinkle. Those tiny little things make such a huge difference around the house, and he loves any kind of responsibility.

I bought a house. I renovated a house. I found somewhere safe and happy for my boys to live and play and we made it a home – together. We danced in the lounge, we unpacked boxes and we ate a LOT of take-aways. On nights alone, I drank a lot of wine. We moved in to our new home on 1 July and that Winter was pretty tough.

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We had to say goodbye to our beautiful Daisy. Although we tried, our new garden is not equipped for two ‘farm’ dogs. She is a great guard dog, but her barking did not sit well with our neighbours – no matter what we tried. She is with my uncle in Durbanville and has become a friend to their Collie. She’ll always be in our lives and on family outings and camping trips, but we miss her so much. Every day. Losing Daisy was a hard blow on all of us.

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I got really good at filling my time and keeping busy. I tried dating and was pretty awful at it. I know that’s true because I watched a LOT of Sex and The City. I met the most incredible people this year. Kind, wonderful, driven and good hearted men. I also met trash. I’ll write about it eventually. It will have a catchy header like “The 3 Men I Dated in 2016” because I’ve learned that there are exactly 3 in every dating / MAN category. Again – so much educational value in Sex and The City.

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I met someone who is my equal in every way and who I learn so much from. Someone who scared the rabbits out of me. Someone who really loves me. I’m a really happy, lucky girl.

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I lost friends and made friends. I lost a best friend, which hurts a woman’s heart more than any man ever could – am I right? I respected my own individuality, because nobody should ever begrudge another for not conforming to their views or lifestyle. We can’t change or shape ourselves around other people’s expectations, and we need to accept and forgive each other for our flaws and faults. I learned so much about forgiveness this year, and what a gracious act it is. It’s one of the best and kindest gifts that you can give to someone.

2016 told me that I am a lot stronger than I thought I was. And that I don’t really care about anything that does not affect me directly. Some people call it privilege, I call it prioritising. I am not going to sit and argue feminism with you for 6 hours on social media when I could be working on a pitch, baking with my kids, running with Jack or drinking bubbly with my wonderful boyfriend. It’s not that I don’t care about women’s rights, it’s just that there is so. little. time. that I’ve learned to direct mine toward my priorities: The people who I love and who need me.

This year I took major steps in my business to give it room to grow. We’ve opened a classroom / training facility which is walking distance to my house. It’s such a pleasure to walk a few steps to the office every day – I really have landed with my bum in the butter here.

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I’ve taken a few knocks, made awful mistakes and really centered my emotions. I was all over the place up until about two months ago. Everything affected me. I found myself wanting to numb my heart with food, series, books, booze – any form of escapism that you could think of. I felt… lost this year. I have the most incredible friends who let me vent, lash out, act weird, be crazy and annoy them for like 10 months straight. A further shout-out to my long-suffering mother who could probably publish novels from our whatsapp threads. I appreciate and love my friends more than I could ever articulate or limit within the framework of words. You are truly beautiful people. I’m going to be a better friend in 2017.

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We ‘solved’ Ben’s asthma. After years of struggling with his tiny lungs, an allergy test saved the day. Also thousands of rands worth of special bedding, sheets, covers, cushions and mattress protectors because our little Bunny Banana is allergic to dust mites. It’s been such a relief to watch him grow stronger every week.

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Noah blew us all away this year with his passion for school, his new friendships and dedication to his schoolwork. He loves school more than anything else, and it loves him.

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That’s a wrap. I’m doing my Xmas shopping today and making the house FESTIVE for my boys who spent way too many evenings watching me work. I can’t wait to just be with them all day without any distractions. I’ll be a better mother in 2017. I’m going to be better at everything. Merry Christmas friends. I hope you have the most beautiful time with everyone who loves you.

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The Simple Things

Country Road asked me to showcase my own version of “The Simple Things” in life. Amongst all the chaos of work, school, personal projects and deadlines… What I love doing most is dedicating full, undivided time to Noah and Benjamin. We often do little tea parties where we’ll just hang out and enjoy each other’s company. Time without homework, chores and rules. I’ll make a big pot of tea and get us some delicious treats and sometimes we’ll play UNO or watch a great family movie or something and relax together for hours.

It’s sad how much kids have to do these days, from such a young age. Noah is in grade 1 and hates Mondays already. On that day they have mini sport, library and two 2 breaks. It hurts your heart to see how quickly they get thrown in to so much. They have 2 extra murals a week and swimming is coming back now too. It’s so important to me that they just get to relax with me, and forget about all the expectations that school already places on them.

So yesterday afternoon I fetched them earlier from school. I got to watch a bit of their drama lesson and laughed at their little performances. We had a long talk on the drive home and instead of hours of homework and routine, I popped by a local bakery, picked up some treats and let them have cupcakes and tea for dinner. I let them use mommy’s ‘fancy’ crockery (that I recently shopped at Country Road) which always makes them feel super special and grown up. Here are some pictures of my gorgeous boys, who I love more than anything else in this world. Looking at these photos made me stop and realise just how quickly they’re growing up too. It’s bittersweet, but beautiful. This is us at home, doing the simple things.

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screen-shot-2016-09-07-at-9-49-12-pmCountry Road let me select a few items from their store for our home to enjoy. I chose a dining set of their gorgeous white, grey and pink plates with matching cups. The wooden tray pictured above is also from them, as are the boys’ outfits. There are a few other items which I’ll share in my next post, when we talk bubble baths and lemonade stands. You can shop Country Road’s dining section here.

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People.

I’ve been living a lot of life these past few months and it’s been pretty great, to be honest. For a few years I kept to myself and focused on family, work, and a handful of friends. While these are all great things to have, I hadn’t realised how ‘safe’ everything was. I got gridlocked in to routine and managing other people’s lives. This is the great ballad for every mother, I realise.

When I did go out, I would always socialise with the same people. Go to the same places. Order the same things. Talk about the same topics. There was maybe 2 years of this and I’d never felt as ordinary. Last year I threw myself at everything that had ever frightened me, and it’s changed my life. The people I’ve met, the emotions I’ve felt – whether exhilarating or excruciating, it’s all changed me. I am terrified of boredom. Or being boring. For a long time, I felt so isolated by my own bangups, because there was no frame of reference. There was nobody new to compare bumps and bruises with. There were no new stories to hear.

September marks one year since I ventured to Paris alone, almost to the day. I’ll never forget getting wine-drunk on a sidewalk cafe with a girl I’d never met. She was about to go home to break up with her boyfriend of 7 years and we spoke about love for hours. The previous night I was discussing depression and happiness with bar staff at a cafe, where I’d ordered a take away but stayed for hours picking on a cheese burger and devouring french champagne. Taking photos of strangers for hours at the Eiffel Tower and seeing how much they appreciated the offer. Trying to tune in to the thoughts of people in the metro as the tunnel lights flashed across their distant looking faces. Crying on my own for hours in the station because I’d missed a destination that was so important to me. Feeling so incredibly alone and accomplished at the same time.

That bred courage.

I’ve been reflecting back on all the people I’ve met since then. Since January. Sometimes when I think about it for long enough, I get really sad. I wonder what it would have been like if I’d stayed where I was and never got to connect with these people from all over the world and right here at home. I met incredibly rich, successful people who are desperately unhappy – and alone. I met people who have enormous dreams and a passion so contagious that you felt special just sitting next to them. I met people who have problems that aren’t their fault. Who medicate themselves daily to feel alive at all. I met someone who felt like everything was on repeat, every day and he didn’t know how to stop it or wake up from it. I met a girl who pushed anyone away who ever criticized or disagreed with her. I met people to were addicted to escapism, not drugs. I met a boy who played pretend, with the loudest laugh and the biggest smile. He could floor you with his charm, but hidden behind that roar is a very frightened person who never takes chances. I met dreamers and chasers, players and lovers. And I don’t want it to stop. Even if it hurts.

Each person has taught me a tiny little baby thing. It really is true that if we all emptied our pockets, and put all our problems on the table – we’d all grab our own back. It’s true that life won’t give you what you can’t handle as long as you step up. You need to take chances to change your life, and even though I’ve been totally scorched and disappointed by people in the past year – I’ve learned who I don’t want to be or become. I’ve felt proud of myself for being able to handle punches. I’ve spoken about things that made me uncomfortable. I’ve hurt people. I’ve been hurt. I’ve banished barrels of insecurities because even the most beautiful women doubt themselves. The most poised are drowning in false pride. The loudest men are often the most afraid, the richest are actually poor and the bravest are the most accomplished. I’ve met people who are ill with mediocracy but completely happy. I don’t think that we’re supposed to be ‘happy’ or content. There should always be a new place or person to learn from. You should always have something that keeps you up at night, something that haunts you. Excites you.

There’s this movie on Diane Arbus’ life story that I love so much. She was a phenomenal photographer, and Nicole Kidman plays her in the adaption called “Fur”. As a photograher, she liked to capture uncomfortable, strange or interesting people. At the end of the movie, once she starts becoming this celebrated photographer… she finds her first subject, sits next to them on this park bench and says “Tell me a secret”

Image: Diane Arbus, New York Magazine

Image: Diane Arbus, New York Magazine

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I want to talk about divorce.

I want to talk about divorce. Specifically, mine.

I want you to know that the “D” word holds no negative connotation in our situation. There is no guilt, resentment or regret in my heart. Nor with my ex husband. It’s been 7 months. Maybe 8. The divorce itself was quick, seamless. Painful. It would be a lie to say that ending something that important doesn’t hurt. Perhaps just a bit less than we both expected. It was a 2 week process handled by only one legal representative who sought out the best interests for all of us.

What makes a marriage fall apart? It didn’t. I loved my ex husband and I know that he loved me. We love each other still. I don’t believe that you can share a life and raise children with someone and ever stop having a bond with them. It’s unfathomable. We created life together, from our own flesh. We shared love, and happiness and a bed. We shared tears and grocery bills and sometimes scraped to get by. We made joint sacrifices. We nested and moved cities, moved homes, unpacked houses and shared a bathroom. Our bodies. Our secrets. That kind of relationship cannot be undone and never should be. We are permanently bonded to the people who we shared ourselves with, in whatever shape that bond lives.

I married my best friend and tried to make him a husband.

Our relationship was based on a familiar friendship, love and compatibility. We foresaw these as the perfect ingredients for marriage. We are a great team. We were (and still are) used to and comfortable in each other’s company. There were a lot of missing elements and undiagnosed factors in our relationship that we didn’t recognise in the beginning. These factors of course enlarged and grew more important as the years tore in to us, no matter how hard we fought them; and trust me: we did.

We fought for each other, our marriage and our friendship when we probably shouldn’t have. We pushed each other’s boundaries year on year in total silence. We made each other lonely. We made each other sad, and restless – and we hated ourselves for it. I know I did. We sought qualities in each other that neither ever possessed.

This is the thing: You marry someone at a time when you are both happy and they fill your holes with the qualities they have. Like… (just examples) maybe you’re a needy person and your partner is an affectionate person: MATCH. Maybe you’re an unorganised person and he is tidy: MATCH – and so it goes. But then years go by and you mature and might find that you’re not a needy person anymore…  but he’s still affectionate. Now… he might feel rejected. Maybe you’ve become super organised but he’s still tidying up after you, so you might suddenly find that annoying. Controlling. Do you see where I’m going with this? We literally un-match as we grow, develop and change. All the bits and pieces that fit so perfectly can (and probably will) slide out of place and it is not. your. fault. It is not. his. fault.

But we make it each other’s fault, don’t we?

On the surface, and even in every day life: we were happy. We could easily have stayed in our marital home for another 10 years. I know that marriage is at times hard and lonely for almost everyone at some point. I strongly believe that it’s an institute worth fighting for. Being married really does mean falling in love with the same person several times.

I want to talk about marriage more because it’s a wonderful, beautiful thing that will rip your soul apart if you don’t give it room to be flawed. It’s not supposed to be perfect. You aren’t supposed to be happy all the time. It won’t fulfill you, and it might uproot everything you never knew about yourself. It will test you, and your sense of hope. When things get bad and you don’t know if they’ll EVER get better but you stay because you promised someone. Him.

You need to have hope.

With marriage comes all the other promises you made to each other too. It’s the breaking of those little ones that snaps the rope that holds you both together. At some point you might both just be standing there, each holding an end of the string and looking to each other for a solution. You can try to knot the pieces to join the string again, and after a few years your rope might be covered in knots and bumps and that’s okay because you’re trying.

Maybe what happened with us is that neither knew how to tie knots properly. Maybe we failed. Maybe we needed to admit that we didn’t have what the other person needed and we never did. I think there’s a maturity in that. An acceptance. Love, even.

We talk every day. We went through a natural adjustment period (read: borderline murder threats) but that was only for a few days. It’s kind of like when you fight with your best friend, and you annoy the hell out of each other…. then you call them a few days later, and it’s like nothing even happened. We hang out, socialise, give each other advice and play with the children together. We are almost exactly the same as we always were – we just don’t live together anymore.

We are going to be in each other’s lives forever. We made that decision when we had Noah – nevermind marriage. He is family. He is friendship, and he is a “daddy”.  At the end of the day, he is my best friend. We’ll still annoy each other sometimes, and we’re fully aware that we’re stuck with each other in the beauty of joint parenthood… and that’s pretty great, because he’s a wonderful father.

And that’s one knotted rope that can’t be undone.

 

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I love it so much

I can’t explain how much I love our new house already. I’m here right now and it’s total, beautiful chaos. My garden’s grass is overgrown and there is rubble all over my patio. The boys’ bunk beds won’t fit along the wall I WANT in their room, so I’m having custom ones made. Eventually. The house smells like paint and dust oh man the dust… One day in my eulogy please firmly mention how grateful I was that I did not live in this house while it’s being renovated. Like… yoh. So much respect for people who do live amongst construction because I would rather self harm. SO much has been done and there is so much still to do.

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I’m just so in love with this house. I know I bought it as an investment with The Plan being to renovate and rent out, but I kind of never want to leave? I’m grateful that I got to change it the way I wanted and that I can be here every day to just settle amongst the chaos and appreciate the changes as they happen. This neighbourhood is so great. I have never felt as safe, welcome and at ease in a home before. My bed isn’t here yet, but I slept over by myself last night and crashed on the bottom bunk in the kids room. No sheet (because where is that box even) with a spiderman scatter cushion (obviously) and no kitchen sink. No bathroom (they’re tiling it and no) and no coffee. Not even a kettle lives here yet. My plants are huddled in to a corner, my dressing table is in the lounge and every time I come here, I load my car with boxes and tiny little things that can’t be categorised in to a sealed box.

I played a game of pool at the local pub last night and ate 2 chilli poppers at the “stays open past 9pm” joint and walked to my front door with hand-rattled keys. I’m experimenting with different dishes at the local deli and hung a hook for my handbags today. I brought a tiny little bit of dishwashing liquid in a juice bottle and affectionately washed the 3 glasses that live in this kitchen already. The tiny little things.

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I’m taking screenshots of nice housey ideas that I find late at night and early in the morning when I can’t sleep because I’m so excited about living here. I bring the dogs for mini visits and we carry Jack down the stairs because he’s too scared to climb down them just yet. The WiFi was installed here yesterday and I spent an unshowered hour on the phone to technicians this morning trying to set up the router. I sent my new home phone number to my entire whatsapp list even though they never phone on my landline; I just want them to know that I’m here. That they can. Everything’s new and fresh and full of dust but it’s wonderful because it’s mine. It’s theirs. It’s ours.

I really love my new house. I love it so much. We all do. Mostly.

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I bought a house for you.

I sure did. I don’t know if I’m emotionally ready to talk about this yet, because it has been such an absolute mission. I started this process in November last year and when I saw this little house, I could. not. stop. I’d been looking for a little investment property close-ish to UCT that sits in a great neighbourhood and that obviously won’t depreciate over the next 11 years – when the kids move in and settle in to their studies. It’s a sweet 2 bedroom duplex in a tiny little block with a big wrap-around garden. The street is lined with big trees, it’s opposite a beautiful church and adjacent to a community garden and playground. There’s access to the train station close by, and it’s a quick walk to main rd on the current Jamie Shuttle route. There’s a lot of development going on in the area, with phase one recently completed. Man, I did so much research right down to the body corporate and their financials and maintenance plans too. There was a bit of a show-down between the seller and I, and on the third offer we finally found a middle ground.

Buying a house as a sole proprietor is a total nightmare. At one point I genuinely considered taking up a full time job just to make the banks like me more. I’ve always avoided credit and literally don’t have any. Not even a cellphone contract. Nothing. Apparently this is a VERY bad thing, and there were many tears over the phone to the credit bureau about my case. Buying a house with just one income and watching people across a desk comb through your bank statements and business financials is actually mortifying. Quick tip: It doesn’t matter if you can afford the bond or even twice the bond amount. It’s just not enough. So with no credit, no payslip and no joint income I set out on The Worlds Most Impossible Quest. And we won. Eventually.

The plan is to live in this sweet little house for a year or two and fix it up real nice. Then rent it out, and pay it off by the time the boys finish school. If you’ve looked at projected figures for university fees in 2027 then you should understand why I’m trying to cover as many bases as I can right now. Maybe I’ll live there as an old lady with many cats one day – who knows? But at least there’s something extra nestled somewhere.

I’m doing tiny baby little renovations right now, which pains me. I am not a DIY type of person. Even the thought of shopping for tiles bores me to actual death, but I’m trying to get in to it. My mom’s partner is a most excellent builder, so I’m kind of winning there. I’m so grateful to him, really. So here are some ideas and plans and things that I found on Pinterest. The first steps to making the place feel a little bit like home.

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